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For over 20 years Rabobank has proudly recognised agribusiness leaders from across Australia and New Zealand.

Bringing together vision and courage, their leadership inspires others and provides a pathway for the future.

By recognising these leaders, Rabobank is shining a light on the agribusiness sector and sharing the stories of those who are making a meaningful contribution to building a stronger agricultural industry and community.  

In 2023 Rabobank introduced the inaugural Rabobank Community Leadership Award, recognising grassroots initiatives providing tangible, meaningful benefit to our rural & ag communities in Australia and New Zealand.

Fiona Simson

2023 Rabobank Leadership Award Recipient

 

As the 2023 Rabobank Leadership Award recipient, Fiona Simson is a prominent innovator and influencer in the Australian agrifood sector and brings a wealth of leadership and governance expertise. She is also a farmer from the Liverpool Plains in NSW where she and her family run a mixed farming enterprise including broadacre cropping and breeding commercial Poll Hereford cattle.

Fiona has been an agricultural industry leader at both a state and federal level since 2008, and was elected in 2016 as the first female President of the National Farmers Federation in its 40 year history. She also Chairs the recently established Future Food Systems CRC, is a Commissioner and Chair of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, sits as a Director on the Boards of Australian Made Australian Grown, Australian Farmers Fighting Fund and is Patron of the National Rural Press Club and Gunnedah Gatepost Community Support Centre.

Kate Scott

2023 Rabobank Emerging Leaders Award Recipient

 

As the 2023 Rabobank Emerging Leader, Kate Scott is passionate about New Zealand’s primary industry and the environment, working across a broad range of sectors.

Kate is Executive Director of Landpro a company that has grown from a staff of one to a team of 30, working with farmers to produce practical farm environmental plans that balance profitability and sustainability. In 2017, Kate was awarded a Nuffield scholarship and the following year travelled to the Netherlands for a global farming conference, followed by an eight-week tour of six other countries looking at different farming systems and technologies.

Boys to the Bush

2023 Rabobank Community Award Recipient - Australia 

 

Boys to the Bush is a grassroots not for profit organisation working within local communities across regional New South Wales and Victoria to proactively and compassionately address local youth issues.

The positive impact the program has had on young boys and men has been recognised with the initiative taking out the inaugural 2023 Rabobank Community Leadership Award, which supports the Rabo Client Council theme addressing the challenges and opportunities in farming and agribusiness. This aligns with our focus on rural health, promoting awareness and access to mental health services in rural communities, and long-term industry capacity and agricultural education, and also entitles Boys to the Bush a $25,000 bursary.

Growing Future Farmers

2023 Rabobank Community Award Recipient - New Zealand

 

Growing Future Farmers aims to accelerate a graduate's career from entry-level Essential Farm Skills Programme to advanced Farm Skills and Business Management.

Active in the community, Growing Future Farmers’ initiative closely aligns with the Client Council theme of long-term industry capacity - supporting the future of the food & agriculture industry by growing capabilities, skills and attracting talent.

When finding and training skilled workers in New Zealand’s sheep, beef and deer sectors became a growing issue for many farming businesses, a small group of like-minded producers came together to address the problem themselves.

A collaborative training and development programme was launched to support the skills shortage through industry-led and practical work experience for motivated young people and providing them with an industry respected and employer led career pathway. This award entitles Growing Future Farmers with a $25,000 bursary to support their initiative.

Previous Award Winners

Meet the winners of our prestigious awards

Volker Kuntzsch

Leadership Award recipient 2019           

The CEO of New Zealand's largest seafood company, Sanford, took out the flagship 2019 Rabobank Leadership Award - which recognises outstanding senior leadership in the food and agribusiness industries across New Zealand and Australia.

Mat Hocken

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2019

Director of Grassmere Dairy based in Manawatu, Mat Hocken, took out the 2019 Rabobank Emerging Leader Award - which recognises an up and coming leader who has made a significant contribution to the sector early on in their career.

Jim Geltch AM

Leadership Award recipient 2018               

The CEO of Nuffield International Jim Geltch took out the 2018 Rabobank Leadership Award, recognising his “fundamentally important” role in developing upcoming leadership.

Anna Speer

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2018

Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) Chief Operating Officer Anna Speer was recognised as a trailblazer with vast potential in the food and agribusiness sector.

 

David Crombie AM

Leadership Award recipient 2017            

Australian beef industry leader David Crombie took out the 2017 Rabobank Leadership Award, in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to agribusiness.

Nathan Free

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2017         

Organic farmer Nathan Free received the 2017 Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, recognising exceptional up-and-coming leadership in Australia and New Zealand's food and agribusiness industries.

Sir Graeme Harrison

Leadership Award recipient 2016            

Sir Graeme Harrison is the founder and chair of one of New Zealand's largest exporters, ANZCO Foods. He was awarded the 2016 Rabobank Leadership Award in recognition of his contribution to the food and agribusiness sectors.

Jan Vydra

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2016           

Entrepreneur and co-founder of one of Australia's leading herb businesses, Jan Vydra received the 2016 Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, recognising exceptional up-and-coming leadership in Australia and New Zealand's food and agribusiness industries.

Sir Henry van der Heyden

Leadership Award recipient 2015           

New Zealand business leader and dairy industry identity Sir Henry van der Heyden has received the 2015 Rabobank Leadership Award, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the food and agribusiness sectors.

Zachary Caudo

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2015         

Viticulturist Zachary Caudo, from South Australia’s Riverland has been award the 2015 Rabobank Emerging Leadership Award which recognises exceptional up-and-coming leadership in Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries.

Mick Keogh

Leadership Award recipient 2014            

Australian Farm Institute (AFI) Executive Director Mick Keogh has been named the recipient of the 2014 Rabobank Leadership Award, recognised for his outstanding contribution to Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness sectors.

Bryce Camm

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2014   

The 2014 winner of the Rabobank Emerging leader Award was Bryce Camm, Darling Downs beef producer Bryce Camm has received the 2014 Rabobank Emerging Leadership Award, acknowledging exceptional up-and-coming leadership in Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries.

Sir George Fistonich

Leadership Award recipient 2013             

The 2013 winner of the Rabobank leadership Award was Sir George Fistonich, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate. In a career spanning 50 years, George Fistonich has exemplified true leadership along with an extraordinary passion for the New Zealand wine industry.

 

Georgie Aley

Emerging Leader Award recipient 2013         

The 2013 winner of the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award was Georgie Aley, managing director of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. She was also a driving force of the Future Farmers Network, the only national youth agricultural organisation in Australia.

 

Dr Jim Peacock

Leadership Award recipient 2012            

Dr Jim Peacock AC, Australia’s former Chief Scientist and currently Fellow and Chair of CSIRO’s Office of the Chief Executive Science Team and Distinguished Professor at the University of Technology Sydney.

 

Barry Irvin

Leadership Award recipient 2011           

Barry Irvin is executive Chairman of Bega Cheese, chairs the Sydney based charity Giant Steps and is a member of the Order of Australia (AM). His leadership of the business since he joined in 2000 has been nothing short of inspirational.

 

Dr Bruce Lee

Leadership Award recipient 2010

Dr Bruce Lee is the Director of the CSIRO Food Futures Flagship. The Food Futures Flagship is a collaboration between the CSIRO, industry and research partners.

 

Robert Hill Smith

Leadership Award recipient 2009

Robert Hill Smith was chosen for the Rabobank Leadership Award for his achievements and commitment both to his business and to environmental and social concerns.

 

Nick Burton Taylor

Leadership Award recipient 2008

Nick Burton Taylor is a substantial pastoralist, a career businessman, and a highly respected Chairman and Director across a range of industries.

 

Max Ould

Leadership Award recipient 2007

Max Ould was Managing Director of National Foods between 1996 and 2003. Over the years, he has assisted Government thinking in many food and agribusiness sectors.

 

John Watson

Leadership Award recipient 2006

John Watson has held Chairman roles at Pivot Ltd, CRC for Innovative Dairy Products and Primesafe and has been a leading figure in the dairy industry deregulation.

 

John McLean

Leadership Award recipient 2004

John McLean led the Warnambool Cheese and Butter Factory for over 30 years, transforming it from a small factory to an internationally competitive company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

 

Donald McGauchie AO

Leadership Award recipient 2001

Donald McGauchie has been an important leader in Australian grain industry. He was a key driver in the establishment and funding of the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

 

Allan McCallum

Leadership Award recipient 2000

Allan McCallum has shown industry leadership on national agribusiness issues over the last 20 years with a number of representative roles in the agricultural sector.

 

Douglas Rathbone

Leadership Award recipient 1999

Douglas Rathbone has led Nufarm in the development and provision of solutions that help farmers maximise yield and face the global challenge of meeting increasing food demands.

 

 

 

 

Award Winners Case Studies

Past winners of Rabobank Emerging Leader and Leadership Awards continue to build on their achievements and leaderships skills. Find out how they have evolved.

Jan Vydra – 2016 Rabobank Emerging Leader Award

How do you go from a fledgling business with a  staff of three to a thriving national company with 130 employees? In a nutshell – through innovation, technology, sustainability and last, but not least, leadership.

Bryce Camm – 2014 Rabobank Emerging Leader Award

Five years ago, young Darling Downs beef producer Bryce Camm was managing a part of the family-owned enterprise, Camm Agricultural Group, now he is responsible for the entire operation  and overseeing ongoing expansion and efficiencies in the business.

Mick Keogh - 2014 Rabobank Leadership Award

When he was growing up on his family’s farm in southern NSW, 2014 Rabobank Leadership Award winner Mick Keogh probably never dreamed that he would one day be playing a vital role in safeguarding the interests of all Australian businesses and consumers.

Rabobank Leadership Award    

The award honours an accomplished agribusiness leader who has, as a senior executive, led sustained growth and commercial success while demonstrating a broader contribution to the sustainability and prosperity of the F&A industry and community. This accomplished agribusiness leader:

  • Has made a significant contribution to the Australian and/or New Zealand food & fibre production and agribusiness sectors consistently, over time
  • Exemplifies outstanding leadership in building, rejuvenating, or expanding a commercial agribusiness
  • Is a driver of change and innovation, who fosters a culture of continuous improvement and courageous decision making to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities
  • Demonstrates clear vision and purpose in inspiring and achieving sustainable growth and future prosperity at both a corporate and industry level
  • Is an authentic leader who leads by example with integrity, champions diversity, inclusion and collaboration, and drives positive community and environmental impact throughout the F&A ecosystem

Rabobank Emerging Leader Award

The award acknowledges the contribution and role of up-and-coming farmers, and those in the wider agribusiness sector, who demonstrate strong leadership potential to help take the industry sustainably and prosperously into the future. Including an individual who:

  • Has made a noticeable contribution to the Australian and/or New Zealand food & fibre production and agribusiness sectors in a short time frame
  • Is purposeful and impactful in their current role and developing leadership qualities that will add future value to the agribusiness industry
  • Demonstrates strong business acumen, entrepreneurial thinking and exhibits courage, maturity and resilience in decision making
  • Embraces change and innovation, who fosters a culture of continuous improvement
  • Is an authentic leader who leads by example with integrity, promotes diversity and inclusion, and demonstrates community and environmental consciousness
  • Shows vision and action in driving sustainability and profitability outcomes, and is already developing strong networks and beginning to influence positive change

Rabobank Community Leadership Award

This NEW award recognises two outstanding initiatives providing tangible, meaningful benefit to our rural & ag communities in Australia and New Zealand.

Grassroots programs and initiatives which:

 

  • Contribute to the sustainable growth, vitality and resilience of the agricultural industry and/or rural communities
  • Align with one or more of the Rabo Client Council themes addressing the challenges and opportunities in farming and agribusiness such as:
    • Long-term industry capacity & agricultural education - support the future of the food & agriculture industry by growing capabilities, skills and attracting talent
    • Sustainability - drive sustainable practices and positive environmental impact within the food & agriculture industry
    • Rural/urban divide - increase understanding of the importance of the agriculture industry and how our food is produced to help bridge the divide between country and city
    • Rural health - promote awareness and/or address access to physical and mental health services in rural communities
    • Adaption/disruption - challenge the status quo and bring new ideas / solutions to the rural sector